Two well taken goals, one in each half of the match day 4, group B, Total Confederation cup 2018/2019 ensured Tunisian giants and four time CAF Champions, Etoile Sportive du Sahel did a double over seven-time Nigerian league champions at a half filled, Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium, Enugu on Sunday.
Smarting from the first leg loss in Sousse that ended an eight match unbeaten run in the competition, few days back, Rangers gaffer, Olugbenga Ogunbote, missing the services of four key players, looked to turn the tide on the visitors but found the 3-4-3 formation of coach Roger Lemerre, a hard nut to crack.
Rangers did start well on the day but poor coordination in the third half robbed them of the few chances created as the back line of the visiting side provided answers to all questions asked.
As both sides were still probing for possible openings at each end, it was Hannachi Maher that struck with the precision of a panther as he fired home on 19 minutes and while the ‘Flying Antelopes’ were still pushing for an equalizer as the second progressed, they were further punished as Mohamed Msakni stabbed home the second on 69 minutes from the penalty spot after Isaac Loute was adjudged to have fouled an attacker in the box.
Efforts by Godwin Aguda, substitutes, Pascal Seka and Ousmane Zeidine to remedy the situation late on was stopped by Walid Kriden who made himself big to push out an Aguda’ curly shot while Zeidine’ headed effort hat beat the keeper but not the crossbar.
Coach Ogunbote in his post match chat said, “It is big loss that we did not see coming. We apologize for this loss and hope to make amends in the remaining matches of the competition. No doubt, the absence of four regular starters was felt in today’s match.”
Coach of Etoile, Frenchman, Lemerre said through an interpreter at the end of the match, “It was a tough match against a very good side, Rangers who failed to take their chances while we took our own. Any team can still qualify for the quarter-finals.”
With the loss, Rangers slip to the third position with four points from four matches and will next play Salitas of Burkina-Faso who were held to a scoreless draw by C.S Sfaxien in another match day 4 encounter in Ouagadougou on Sunday, March 10, 2019.